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Capactive & Dual Screen eBook Readers Unveiled

Gordon Kelly


Capactive & Dual Screen eBook Readers Unveiled

Got your heart/wallet set on an internationally available Amazon Kindle? Stop the press!

Throwing your decision making process back to square one today are Plastic Logic and Spring Design, which have both announced hugely exciting new eBook readers. How does capacitive screen technology, a Google Android platform and dual screens sound?

Sadly, you'll need to buy both to find out, so we'll deal with them on their own terms. Capacitive to begin with and Plastic Logic claims it has mastered this with the 'Que' (pronounced 'queue') which becomes the first eBook reader to feature the tech. It is achieved via the addition of a touchscreen layer and - from the evidence in the video - operation appears far more responsive than existing touchscreen eBook readers such as the Sony PRS 600 Touch Edition. On top of this you'll find integrated 3G, WiFi and a battery life of "days not hours" all crammed into dimensions of 280 x 63 x 6mm. Full format support wasn't divulged but PDF, Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents will be covered and we'll hear more at CES in January next year.

As for Android and dual screens, this is spectacularly tackled by Spring Design's 'Alex' which combines a 3.5in colour LCD and 6in mono e-ink screen with Google's mobile OS platform. The theory is it can work as both an eBook and viable web surfing/image viewer - functionality it backs up with 3G, WiFi and touchscreen technology.

"This is the start of a whole new experience of reading content on e-books, potentially igniting a whole new industry in multimedia e-book publishing for secondary authors to create supplementary content that is hyper linked to the text" said Spring Design CEO Priscilla Lu. "We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations. This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience."

Spring claims it is currently in discussion with content partners and aims to release Alex before the end of the year. Colour me sceptical (especially when it comes to a viable price and battery life), but you can't fault the ambition...


Que Reader

Alex Press Release


October 20, 2009, 4:31 am

design is much better than the kindle & prefer the edge to be less rounded. sadly to me it doesnt have the wow factor and i'd rather wait until at least 2010 to see what will be on the market. There will be plenty more better equiped & better designed & multi functional e-readers/tablets i bet.


October 20, 2009, 7:35 am

Hmmmm looks a bit of a funny shape. Too long..?*

One thing is for sure, it's going to be super expensive.

(*Yes, that's what she said)

Stewart Clark

October 20, 2009, 1:12 pm

This market is getting more interesting by the day and so I am not going to be an early adopter of this tech although I want one (if you need someone to do a review please send a sample to...). The problem I see is that we may never have a simple to use replacement for the book, in the same way we no longer have just a phone. Until this market sector matures a lot more I will stick with the Iphone and the heaps of free classics.


October 20, 2009, 2:07 pm

its never gonna be as easy as jotting down notes on papers unless they implement both cap & resis screen or do something innovative...

Jon Williamson

October 20, 2009, 6:03 pm

I've been commenting on ebooks for many years now and I remain convinced that they will never replace the paper book for most consumer applications. Yes, there may be certain applictions where it is useful (e.g. for university courses; technical data that changes; huge professional reference libraries), but I for one cannot see how this replaces a paperback that I pick up for a fiver, gadget fan though I am ..

Tony Walker

October 20, 2009, 6:05 pm


Resistive screens are awful for writing on - I've had enough PDAs to know. I believe there are stylii available for capacitive screens and the usage should be somewhat akin to the HP tablets TC1000 and TC1100. Writing on these was actually quite reasonable.


October 20, 2009, 6:39 pm

It said on some site (and I'm inclined to believe it given the dodgy state of that graphic) that the "Alex" is just some guy trying to get copyright for a dual screen e-reader before Barnes & Noble come out with their e-reader this/next week which is rumoured to feature dual screens.

But I'm in the "wait another year" (at least) camp for these devices. When they can overlay an e-ink screen onto a laptop/phone/etc LCD and have it "all in one" then I'll bite, until then I'd rather just carry a real book. Even then I'd rather carry a real book, but I would pay more for such a device for sake of convenience.

I guess I should trademark the idea of having a screen over a screen...


October 20, 2009, 7:12 pm

@Tony, oh yes I've used some PDAs with resistive screen before, they do suck badly. I remember reading an article a few days ago saying a firm had develped a screen which is both resistive/capacitive - you can use literally anything on it - then if a tablet/reader with the function you can use you hand to zoom in and then making note with ballpoint pen, save as it is on screen, fast and simple, then I can see it as a perfect replacement for textbooks to start with.

not to mention playing games/watching dvd in a boring lecture. that'd be fun... lol

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